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A Riddle

15 Feb

A riddle for you on this Tuesday afternoon: what do a 17th century troubadour, a man in a banana suit and cookie monster all have in common?

The answer is they are all subway musicians! Over the past two weeks I saw the my 17th century friend uptown on the downtown one platform, strumming a guitar with a mead tankard hanging from his belt. The banana and cookie monster actually played a duet together in Penn station. In case you were curious, Cookie monster plays the xylophone and banana’s are fond of the stand up bass. (Actually, they were really good).


Just a day in the life of a commuting grad student. Another normal day? Doing lots of reading while your muffins bake in the oven.


These muffins are lightly adapted from The New American Plate’s Flaxseed Raisin muffins. I subbed in whole wheat flour, raw turbinado sugar, and added a 1/2 tsp of all spice. I also used plain yogurt instead of buttermilk. These will be my go to breakfast (or snack) for the next few days,  as I finish reading about cognitive flexibility in the drawings of bilingual children.


Winter Doldrums

1 Feb

The amount of snow still on the ground is ridiculous, there isn’t any space to put the results of the next impending storm. I decided to spare you a photograph of the piled up mounds of snow because it just bums me out. The accumulated snow and the reading I have to do for grad school has me hibernating inside my home like my dog, Riley. Without fail, every morning Riley curls up on the chair in our family’s living room with his tail touching his nose.

How long til I can have days with views like this again?

In art news, I have 20 days to check out the exhibit Glorious Sky: Herbert Katzman’s New York. To be followed up with a viewing of this show at the Met. Finally, I found this article discussing how the current situation in Egypt may impact their cultural treasures.

I also have less than a week to figure out a delicious, veggie inspired party food for Superbowl Sunday.

Any suggestions?



Travels in the Boroughs

18 Jan

During the last few days, I’ve ventured to certain areas in the boroughs that I’ve previously never been to: Williamsburg and Flushing.

Thursday night, I accompanied my friend to her work dinner party at the restaurant Cubana Socíal in Williamsburg. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I fell in love with the ambiance of the place. I felt like I was in 1930’s Havana due to the dark wood contrasting with cream walls, dim lighting and the talented guitarists playing in the middle of the space.  I really enjoy the feeling of being transported to another place in time, especially when it coincides with delicious food.

We sampled almost everything on the menu, but the standout for me was the kale and avocado salad. When I’ve made kale at home, I’ve never really loved the taste of it but this salad is converting me. I have plans to go back and enjoy it this summer at Cubana Socíal, when the doors are opened and summer air fills the place.


Sunday morning I did something that several of my friends used to do every Sunday morning while we were in high school. I even texted one of them this Sunday to state, “guess what I did!”

I went….for dim sum.

My boyfriend and I drove in, found parking, and then waited in a throng of people in the stairwell of the restaurant. The hostess called out numbers, and once we heard ours we were able to scale the stairs and enter the filled restaurant. This is where my culinary tale becomes scant on fact, for I cannot actually tell you the names of anything I ate.

We didn’t order off a menu, just pointed to steamer baskets on the constantly passing carts. I didn’t question it; I just drank an entire pot of tea, had a fantastic time, and consumed everything.

Everything that is, except for the chicken feet.


Slowcooking and Tornadoes

20 Sep

Before I talk about my first experience with a borrowed slow cooker, I just want to tell my commuting story of the week. And I’m not talking about the 6 foot five man wearing a top hat I saw on the subway. For those of you not living in New York, you may not know we got hit by two tornadoes on Thursday. Specifically Brooklyn and Queens.

My experience on Thursday was similar to many of those packed into Penn Station. When I left work on Thursday, I noticed a greenish sky and saw lightening before jumping onto my subway across the street. I usually have a half hour to kill before my train to Long Island arrives, but EXACTLY when my train is supposed to arrive the boards go blank. There are no trains, and the station is turning into a sweaty mess with all the people crammed in there. Eventually we find out that trees fell across the track, eliminating service between Penn and Jamaica. This means NO service.

So what does a girl in this situation do? She meets up with her dad in a bar, her awesome boyfriend drives in to pick them up, they eat and drink…and then sit for four hours in traffic.If anyone is ever in a similar situation, the Pig and Whistle on 36th near 7th is a fantastic place to wait a Penn emergency out.

But back to the picture at the top of this post. I tried the all- american chili slow cooker recipe from Family Circle. I plopped everything in the cooker at 7:30 in the morning, and my mom turned it off when she got home at 4 pm. For the convenience factor, this recipe gets four stars. Flavor wise? 2.5. The chili was a little too thin for my family’s taste, and the fresh oregano added at the end saved it. Next time I would up the cumin, add hot pepper, and add another vegetable to the mix. So far I’m a fan of the slow cooker. I like coming home from work and having dinner all ready to go. It gives me time to exercise and socialize before going to bed and repeating my day all over again.

Cruisin Round NYC

29 Aug

So Friday night I boarded this

the Paddle Wheel Queen, with these lovely ladies

to view sights like these

My friends Stef and Jess, and I, had bought tickets for an evening cruise with Marco Polo cruises off a deal from LivingSocial. We were told we would start boarding at 7, but because of the several other boats boarding at the dock we didn’t actually start boarding until 7:30. The best part of the cruise was getting to see the lights of the city from the boat, and spending time with friends.

Our purchase included a buffet and two free drinks. The buffet was standard – penne a la vodka, caesar salad, rolls and chicken. We ate our fill because we were starving by 8:30, but it’s so hard to eat healthy at events like these. And my two glasses of wine was a serious mistake that I felt the next morning. I think I would have been safer with beer. Later on, we really enjoyed dancing on the second floor of the boat.

So while I loved cruising around the city, I’m really glad that I didn’t pay full price for the cruise.

In other NYC news, I’m very excited for this

Architectural Glory

20 Aug

Remember this? It’s almost labor day, and I have yet to fully use my key to the city. Time just seems to be slipping away. Yesterday, I seized the opportunity when I was on the upper upper west side to go to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

I hadn’t been here in over five years, since I went during freshman year of college to see a professor’s artwork installed here. I had the same visceral reaction when I walked into the nave of the church; I gasped.

I’m in awe of architecture like this. People built this. People created this. I think it’s absolutely insane.

After sufficient ogling of the architecture, I walked up the left aisle to use my key to the city. It would unlock the entrance gate to The Baptistery, ” a gift from the descendants of Peter Stuyvesant, the last governor of New Amsterdam- or New York City, as it is known today.”

There was something thrilling about opening a gate that typically you can’t. I felt sneaky, and cast furtive looks around as I opened the padlock.

I pulled the gate closed behind me. You can enter through the side door as well, which is always open. But it was really funny when a little boy yelled at me, “HEY. how did you get in there?!”

Since you weren’t in there with me, and the key to the city project is about allowing people access to things they normally wouldn’t, I’ll leave you with a few more photos of the Cathedral.

Museum Hopping

13 Aug

Yesterday I wanted to go to some museums I haven’t visited in months, or years. (Or ever). I wanted to go here.

Except I forgot that the Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays, breaking from the rule of no museum Mondays.

I waffled indecisively in front of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

I missed the exhibit I wanted to see at the Jewish Museum.

Eventually I just walked down to that my safe bet, the Met. I never know where I’ll end up there, I tend to wander through the same hallways. I go up the main staircase, usually making a left turn into prints and drawings. Then I’ll just segue from there, making arbitrary turns.  Once in awhile I’ll end up underneath the Medieval gateway, which I’ll use as my marker. Yesterday in particular I tried to avoid the throngs of people.

While wandering through the museum, I started a train of thought inspired by one of the photographs on display in “Between Here and There: Passages in Contemporary Photography”.  The photograph was by Thomas Struth.

Thomas Struth. National Museum of Art, 1999.

The museum’s placard discussed how Thomas Struth focused on the secular religion of art, as well as the “appreciation of difference and cultural specificity.” This photograph, of an art loan between France and Japan, shows us how the Japanese chose to display Liberty Leading the People and how it is viewed. All the information presented to me, through both the placard and image, led me to thinking about this concept of art as a secular religion. I think it’s completely valid.

Even the Met’s architecture lent itself to this train of thought. All I could think of, as I looked at these arches where the churches I’d visited in Florence. Even the niche filled with flowers reminded me of the small niches for religious statues and offerings you would find randomly in a wall.

NYC. Florence.

And then I found myself in a wing where I had never been before, the Florence and Herbert Irving Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia. I discovered about the religious transformation of the region, as Buddhism spread from India to China.

I spent some time wandering the museum in reverential silence, thinking about the cultural significance of so many things.

Which led me to search out another cultural element. Food.

Coney Island

12 Jul

Expect some drawings later this week of Luna Park and Coney Island. It was crazy how garish the colors were, particularly against the gray sky. The typography on the signs and weathered buildings were indicative of earlier years, and my mother and I mentioned we felt like we were in a movie ( My sister said Big Fish). Where else do you still have side show acts, crazy characters, and roller coasters on the same few blocks?

Key to the City : Adventure 1

22 Jun

A spontaneous city adventure in which we received our key to the city, a passport, and the power to turn on a lamp post in Bryant Park.

Summer (Seafood) in the City

21 Jun

Saturday night I went to my second “recreational cooking class” at the Institute of Culinary Education on West 23rd Street, Summer Seafood on the Grill.  Typically these classes are around 4 hours. I missed the first 45 minutes though due to traffic, and I can say with brutal honesty I had a quick crying fit because  I hate hate hate being late. Sometimes my perfectionist tendencies can be a downfall.

It actually worked out this time though because we missed the boring go through of the recipes and introduction to the class, and could get right down to what my boyfriend and I wanted to do: cook. The schedule for this class pretty much goes like this: first hour is recipe run through, next two and half hours or three hours are cooking, followed up by feasting. The recipes get divided up among the class, usually two people per recipe. Since there were 8 couples and 7 recipes, we paired up with the other friendly couple in the room to make our crostini con frutti di mare.You also receive a folder at the beginning of class which contains all of the recipes, so you can make them at home.

Unfortunately, our instructor for this class was not as laid back as our previous instructor which was a little bit of a downer. For example, instead of being free to grab out ingredients ourselves from the kitchen, our instructor handed them out. I’m perfectly capable of grabbing some chives myself, thank you very much. I did like that this class was equally about presentation of a dish, something which was not a concern at the class I took during January.

And without further ado, the food.

Frozen Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp

I’m not going to lie, this was a really bizarre dish to eat. The gazpacho had been given the consistency and temperature of a sorbet, so it tasted like cold tomato soup.

Crostini con Frutti Di Mare

This was the dish I helped create; it focused on poached calamari,scallops and shrimps chilled with fresh herbs and vegetables, served upon grilled bread. This was a substantial crostini, fork and knife necessary.

Herb-Crusted Salmon / California Avocado Salsa

I loved the salsa this salmon was served upon. It definitely had a strong avocado flavor, but I think it would really pair well with most grilled foods. The salmon was cooked perfectly, but the herb crust was a little too salty.  Someone’s hand must have slipped with the salt.

Spanish style and Monkfish Skewers

For which I have no pictures. I’ll just say that for a crazy looking fish, monkfish tastes delicious.

Chopped Salad with Buttermilk Herb Dressing

Both the salad and dressing were really fresh tasting, though the dressing really needs to be used in moderation.

*Side story: Our instructor told us to think about color when laying out the vegetables. I wanted to say, “Do you know what I studied in school? BFA in painting right here.” But I refrained.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart